Corel Painter 2015 review

Painter 2015 allows artists to express themselves in ways never thought possible.

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Our Verdict

If you want to experiment with the look of traditional tools, this is the software for you, and its trad brushes are second to none, though this latest iteration isn't a massive move forward.

For

  • Introduction of abstract brushes
  • RealBristle brushes feature
  • Support for 64-bit processors
  • Solid and versatile tool for creating digital art

Against

  • Not a revolutionary update

Corel Painter 2015 offers amazing digital brushes

While Adobe has embraced software subscriptions to much of its product line, Corel is sticking to the pay-up-front model – £315 (upgrade £159).

The latest version of its Painter software is a case in point: you can buy a boxed copy or a digital download, but there are no rolling subscription packs or seamless updates.

Where Painter always moves forwards is in its brush technology, which is its big selling point and its raison d'etre.

Corel seemingly exhausted its supply of real-world brushes and mediums a few years ago, and has therefore moved on to more abstract creations. With Painter 2015, it's the introduction of particle brushes.

If you're familiar with Flame Painter you'll know what to expect from these animated brushes.

The Particle Spring brush, for instance, consists of a number of points that follows your cursor, springing backwards and forwards as you build momentum and trailing off if you draw a sharp angle, resulting in a gauzy, wispy line.

Particle Flow Yeti, on the other hand, creates randomised patterns of coarse hair: perfect for painting fantasy beasts.

These brushes don't act like real-life brushes, and this is the point. Each takes a little getting used to, and it’s worth starting with a blank canvas to experiment on.

Corel Painter 2015 offers amazing digital brushes

SmartStroke technology enables you to follow the contours of photos with a brush.

They're best suited to adding subtle effects, such as a fine curl of cigarette smoke or a cobweb. They're adjustable, too, so you can use the Particle Flow Sparkler with a large brush size to create a galactic sky, rather than the focused glimmering light points it was intended for.

There are a few other tweaks in the 2015 version, too, such as RealBristle brushes that realistically respond to the pressure, speed and tilt of your Wacom stylus, and brush tracking so you can change how hard you have to press to get your virtual ink flowing.

Corel Painter 2015 offers amazing digital brushes

Painter's window layouts means you can see just about everything at once, while keeping your workspace clean

There's also many under-the-hood enhancements, such as support for 64-bit processors, and custom palette and tool arrangements.

Painter is still one of the best pieces of digital art software we've come across, but while the new features – especially the particle brushes – are great, there are no massive leaps here.

This begs the question, should Corel make Painter a subscription-based software, offereing additions and tweaks as internet-based updates, rather than totally new versions of the software?

It's a hot, devisive, topic, that Corel may have to broach before the next iteration comes out. For now, 2015 is a worthy addition to the family.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 113.

The Verdict

8

out of 10

Painter 2015

If you want to experiment with the look of traditional tools, this is the software for you, and its trad brushes are second to none, though this latest iteration isn't a massive move forward.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beren Neale is commissioning editor at Creative Bloq.